Sharing specialist information drives mineral processing efficiency

Mineral processing specialist Multotec has refined its customer training workshops to bridge the gap between theoretical learning and practical experience, which it says is essential in the mining industry to improve the efficiency of processing plant performance.

Multotec process engineering training facilitator Brent Combrink tells Mining Weekly that universities cover the fundamentals of mining and mineral processes, but the vast amount of information available on specific mining aspects, such as screening and classification cyclones, makes it challenging for tertiary institutions to produce specialists with practical insights.

In February, Multotec presented the first of seven customer training workshops for the year. The course, on screening, attracted 76 attendees, of whom 46 comprised the University of Pretoria’s fourth-year mineral processing class. The company also presented on classification cyclones in April.

Courses planned for the rest of the year are on the topics of dense-media separation cyclones (June 2), pumps (July 7), wear linings (July 28), milling optimisation (August 18) and magnetics, gravity, sampling and process water treatment (October 19 to 20). These courses will be presented at Multotec’s training facility at its head office in Spartan, in Kempton Park.

The company’s customer training workshops are presented by staff engineers. “Our engineers have a wealth of knowledge across the full spectrum of commodities in mining,” notes Combrink. 

The information presented by Multotec has been accumulated over the company’s more than 40 years of experience in delivering projects for the mining sector. “Our staff gain many practical tips and are confronted by maintenance and installation challenges that you will not find in a textbook,” he states. 

The courses are recommended for mine managers, plant managers, process equipment operators, metallurgists, project house engineers, original-equipment manufacturers and chemical engineers.

“Attendees are encouraged to ask questions and participate during training sessions to enable the specialist presenter to use plant-specific examples to illustrate how to improve efficiency or solve maintenance or production issues.”

Multotec has trained representatives of mining giants De Beers, AngloGold Ashanti and Rio Tinto. “Feedback from attendees is uniformly positive. They fill in an evaluation form, which we use to adapt course content or presentations to continuously improve the overall delivery of our training.”

The company has also presented on-site training at mining companies to assist in enhancing the performance of their plants according to their specific processes, equipment and targets. “For on-site training, we provide pre- and post-evaluation forms in the form of a test to determine what the staff has learned. The companies’ management can then use that feedback to gauge improvement.”

Multotec’s customer training workshops are also endorsed by Northwest University (NWU) associate professor Quentin Campbell, says Combrink. Campbell, a member of NWU’s Faculty of Engineering’s School of Chemical and Minerals Engineering and the Southern African Coal Processing Society, has often attended the company’s training sessions.

“The university endorses some of our course material, which helps us fill the gap between tertiary education and practical plant applications,” emphasises Combrink.

He adds that, following training, Multotec offers customers a customised optimisation experience, upon request, to improve customer relations. This offering involves travelling to site to help customers implement their newly gained knowledge.

Where it Started

Multotec’s senior management identified the need to invest in a formal, in-house training programme, in 2012, to strengthen its staff’s knowledge and improve its customer service offering.

“During that training, we realised that the expertise in the company can also be valuable to customers, since the presenters are leaders in their field,” explains Combrink. Training can make customers more confident in their decisions and more competent in using mineral processes, as well as provide learning tools to improve the efficiency of plants

It took a year and a half to refine the customer training workshops. The first workshops were presented at the end of 2014 at Multotec’s training facility.

The facility can cater to 110 people, with course attendees also taken on tours through the factories. “Attendees get a practical understanding of the different facets that are involved in mineral processing, such as plant design, production rates and the materials used for processing.” 

Multotec still holds in-house training programmes for staff twice monthly, which cover process training on commodities, such as iron-ore, diamonds, coal, gold, platinum, rubber and base metals, as well as product training on our full product range including spiral separators, screening and classification cyclones.


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